09/06/2015 07:00 BST | Updated 09/06/2015 07:00 BST

Drinking Two Fizzy Beverages A Day Could Increase Liver Disease Risk, Scientists Warn

People who have more than one fizzy drink a day could be destined for health problems, according to a new study.

A survey of middle-aged men and women found that those who drunk more than one fizzy beverage a day had an increased chance of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

NAFLD is recognised as one of the most common forms of liver disease in the world, according to the British Liver Trust.

If left untreated, it can progress to advanced liver damage and, in some people, can cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as cirrhosis.

fizzy drink

Tufts University researchers analysed dietary questionnaires from more than 2,600 study participants. They found that those who drank more than one sugar-sweetened beverage each day had a higher prevalence of NAFLD.

"Our study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to NAFLD and other chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease," said lead author, Jiantao Ma.

Scientists found that even after accounting for gender, age, body mass and dietary factors, the link between NAFLD and sugary drinks remained.

According to the NHS, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a term for a wide range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat within the liver cells. It is usually seen in people who are overweight or obese.

It is one of the most common forms of liver disease, with an estimated 25-30% of people in the UK developing an early form of it.

SEE ALSO:

Children's Fruit Snacks Contain More Sugar Than Haribo Sweets, Study Finds

Hidden Sugar Found In Everyday Foods (And How They Can Damage Your Teeth)

'Healthy' Superfruit Juices Contain More Sugar Than Cola

According to researchers, fizzy drinks are a major dietary source of fructose, a type of sugar which is suspected of increasing the risk of NAFLD because of how our bodies process it.

"Few observational studies, to date, have examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and NAFLD," explained Ma.

"Long-term prospective studies are needed to help ascertain the potential role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the development of NAFLD."

The researchers added that future studies in this area should try to find out whether switching to diet drinks could impact the development of the disease - particularly as this could also be associated with weight loss.

Fellow author, Nicola McKeown, added: "Although there is much more research to be done, sugar-sweetened beverages are a source of empty calories, and people need to be mindful of how much they are drinking, perhaps by reserving this habit for special occasions."

The study was published in the Journal of Hepatology.

Photo gallery
Risk Factors For Liver Disease
See Gallery